Monthly Archives: April 2008

Have I gone too far?

I don’t know. I’m feeling some conscience pangs today at my decision to go so public with all of this. Let me just explain what’s going on.

Something happened today that forced me to look at this whole situation from another perspective: his. Here I am, as a private individual, finding it therapeutic to be open about my situation and my feelings, but am I taking his situation and feelings sufficiently into account? Possibly not.

I couldn’t actually have foretold that his attitude would be to say nothing publicly for the time being, but I’m beginning to understand it. I can’t decide whether this is a good thing or not. His internet presence is much more closely tied in with his professional base than with his private life, whereas I divide my public and private personae between different areas, with most people only having ready access to the one OR the other.

I posted a picture of him on Flickr with a quotation from a sad, wistful poem about mourning that I thought aptly matched the sadness of the current situation – it’s been a favourite of mine for years, and it was an obvious choice under the circumstances. At the same time, I thought that since it was quite an intimate item, I’d allow it to be viewed by my Flickr friends only, and not just by any contacts, let alone the world at large. I did it again as a therapeutic measure for me, a chance to get some feelings out in the open as well as a chance to post a lovely picture of him taken a few weeks ago.

As the day wore on, I got a couple of comments on the picture. People not knowing quite what to say, but deciding (wisely) to comment on it as a photograph, no more, no less. It became quite clear to me that they felt a bit awkward at being confronted with the item as it was, and it got me thinking, too. I have removed the quotation in the meantime, simply because it was making ME feel uncomfortable. Here’s what it was, though (as I feel justified in putting it on my own private webspace):

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
(W. H. Auden)

I’ve also received an e-mail from a friend including some good arguments why “he” (I don’t plan to use the quotation marks in general, I’m just trying to distinguish between the e-mail friend and the ex) wouldn’t or shouldn’t necessarily go public with an announcement. I still feel it’s necessary and justified, but my friend’s comments enabled me to see it more from another perspective.

Anyway, it’s late now. Just wondering if any of you have thoughts on this. I know there are people out there who are much more experienced bloggers than I am, and who maybe know more about the ethics…


Filed under Up close and personal

A Sunny Day

Well, today the sun shone in more ways than one, and I feel relieved and grateful.

I started the day badly, feeling even more tearful than I had on Saturday last weekend. I decided I must take advantage of the lovely weather and went out into town. This first trip was aborted fairly quickly, as I found it really difficult to cope with the fact that although it was Saturday, and sunny, there was a huge discrepancy between this feeling and the feeling I’d have had if I’d been out and about with him on such a day. I started to feel incredibly alone, seeing (as it seemed) everyone else playing happy couples or happy families, and felt that everyone could sense my sadness, which made me tear up again, so I headed back home.

It was clear, though, that allowing myself to be defeated in this way was just plain stupid, and since I desperately needed a haircut, I shortly set out again, this time admitting I felt crappy, but I was on a clear mission. Wondered whether to get a totally different cut, but settled in the end for the usual style, not wanting to make a rash decision in a vulnerable moment.

A little later I met some friends for lunch. So as to take advantage of the weather, we went to a pizza place that has a wonderful inner courtyard, with high ivy-encrusted walls, lots of sun and a big patch of blue sky at the top, so that you feel that you actually could be somewhere in Italy. They’d been following my blog postings, so we talked once again about the things I wrote in my last post, went into a bit more detail about my grievances, and I told them about the decision I’d made based on the advice friends had given.

Although I felt clueless when I wrote that post, it was clear when people’s different viewpoints started coming in – some as blog comments, others as private e-mails or phone calls – that there was some advice that really felt totally right, and some that I just didn’t feel it was the right thing to follow just at the moment. Don’t get me wrong – I hugely appreciated everyone’s thoughts and want to thank everyone who gave their insights and advice, but there was one friend who said something that struck an immediate chord. He said that one option was to “tough it out” with the contact thing, a kind of exposure therapy rather than the option of cutting contact. I quickly drew the conclusion that – and I’m sorry to repeat this again to those who’ve already heard this, but I was quite impressed by my metaphor… – sealing yourself off in a germ-free environment isn’t going to strengthen your immune system. Obviously the exposure approach won’t work if I continue to allow myself to be upset by everything that comes from that one source, but having thankfully received assurance from said source that none of it was / is meant to hurt me, I’m going to give it a try, anyway. And my mind has been a lot more at rest since making that decision.

Anyway, back to today. I explained my decision to my friends, one of whom had given me the opposite advice, and they saw the sense in what I was saying. After lunch we sauntered round town a bit, going into the cathedral and observing the market stall-holders packing up after the day. My friend even retrieved a stray rose head from the ground, one very like the one in the picture I posted in my first blog entry.

Afterwards I went to buy a new phone: retail therapy this time. My phone / answering machine setup hasn’t been working as I wanted it to since I got an internet connection at home, despite valiant attempts by the ex to set it up differently, and so I’d constantly been missing calls because the answering machine had cut in and couldn’t be overridden. I now in fact have a system with a phone downstairs and one upstairs, which will be a great improvement and will hopefully prevent me from breaking my neck haring downstairs every time the phone rings.

Later on I met up with another friend for a drink. Again, we sat outside and watched the world go by, compared notes on relationship or breakup woes, and rolled our eyes at the numerous members of the Freiburg jet-set who seemed to make up a lot of the clientele. Afterwards we went for a very aimless but totally relaxing walk, talking about plans for the future and options for the present.

I could have met my friends again tonight, but home was calling, I wanted some time for reflection, and I knew I actually wanted to do a few domestic chores before the day was out. So the washing machine is doing its best, I’ve put my shopping away, and I’m hoping the day will come to a relaxing close.

It’s a relief and a pleasure to have been able to record some positive things today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…


Filed under Up close and personal

Storm clouds

Hurt has turned to anger. I’d been waiting for this, feeling slightly surprised by the remarkably benevolent thoughts I was having at the end of last week.

I also feel less in control and am finding myself wishing constantly that someone would come along with “the answer”. This line of thought is remarkably useless but is occupying me an awful lot.

I’ve been so torn between different feelings the last few days. A big part of me constantly wants to scream and yell at him for leaving me in the first place, and for seeming (deliberate italics) so thoughtless towards me at the moment. The only indirect signs of life I receive are excruciatingly upbeat, and it’s easy to think these are intended to hurt or slight me. At the same time, I’m only seeing into his “public” life right now, and there’s no way I can know what’s going on inside his head or behind closed doors. One friend asked me yesterday why I don’t just cut all online contact with him, so that I’m not subjected to the pain of the upbeatness of his status updates and don’t have to listen to sweeping statements about “tons of good stuff happening in 2008”. She has a point, perhaps, but the thought of doing that and having no idea what he’s up to makes me feel even emptier – it’s such a vicious circle, and I’m really feeling the claustrophobia of being trapped inside it.

Another possible option is to contact him and tell him exactly how I feel. A smaller, more tentative part of me thinks that would be the best option right now. My anger and hurt could be directed more towards their cause, rather than simply radiating off me, making me feel sick and not too pleasant for others to be around. And yet I in my infinite fairness (ha!) don’t want to find myself saying things that are unjustified; I don’t want it to be a tit-for-tat “You hurt me, so guess what…?” kind of situation. And I don’t want to risk either losing my dignity or burning my bridges. Not that I yet know what those bridges are connecting or how strong they are in any case.

Anyone have any useful thoughts on this? I’m feeling worn out from the constant ping-pong of these conflicting issues in my head and could really use some input from outside.


Filed under Up close and personal

Up and down…

Well, what everyone said about feeling up and down is certainly true. I feel as though I’ve been fed an overdose of female hormones…

Yesterday was a pretty good day. It was the first day of the semester, and I’d been eyeing it with some apprehension for some time in any case. I did know from past experience that it’s normally a day that brings relief and pleasure from getting back into something I enjoy and that everyone seems to think I’m good at. This time round, though, I wasn’t sure to what extent the other stuff going on in my life might affect me adversely. But everything was fine. I only had one class, which was a relief, and it wasn’t until the afternoon, so I forced myself to be just a little bit more leisurely in the morning and walked round town a bit, bought a card for a friend, paid an overdue bill immediately after receiving the reminder (I was quite impressed by this!) and just enjoyed being out in the fresh air, savouring the feeling that I had overridden my normal compulsion to go straight to work. It was only a small gesture, but I felt that I had done something for myself, and the feeling was good.

The class went really well, too. A lively and interested bunch of students, and everyone was happy to engage in the activities I’d planned for their first session. Slipping into my classroom persona (always cheerful, chatty, encouraging, witty (either that or people are easily amused…)) offered such a total break from worrying or feeling sad about something, and the adrenalin kept me “up” for the rest of the day. Then coming home in the evening and find some more lovely blog comments and some other messages extended the feeling further.

Today, by contrast, started with me feeling the world’s burdens on my shoulders. Every e-mail from a student pleading to be let into an overcrowded class, following all of our efforts last week to make class sizes fair, almost sent me into apoplexy (hence my wondering aloud on Twitter what Sisyphean task was going to greet me next), and I was really quite snappy for much of the morning. This continued to the beginning of my first class, where, you guessed it, I was greeted by several forlorn looking students at the door begging to be admitted. I told them quite loudly, in front of the others, that their addition would mean my attention would be spread out even more thinly among everyone, but I did acquiesce and let them in. And once we actually started the class, everything was OK and the extra people proved to be active, cheerful participants.

The afternoon class also went well, although I was a bit disorganized about getting the equipment set up (laptop, projector, loudspeakers – the university can lavish money on 550-year jubilees and rebuilding the library, but classrooms are generally badly equipped and you have to take technical stuff along yourself), I had to swap rooms as there wasn’t enough space (luckily an amenable colleague was in the larger room opposite), and then I probably talked too much. Oh well.

Positive points: I’m having a girlie video evening on Thursday (going to watch “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, which I love but will cause me to cry buckets – friend has been forewarned and will most likely share tissues!), celebrating a colleague’s permanent contract on Friday, going to look what’s on offer in the university’s extra-mural section, and planning to arrange a meeting with a friend I haven’t seen for a while on Sunday.

Life goes on, and I now feel a lot better for having written all this down.


Filed under Up close and personal, Work stuff

The end is the beginning…

Our relationship started on 25 July 2004 and ended on 17 April 2008. Three years, eight months and twenty-three days. From the first time I met him, long before we actually got together, I knew he was “the one”, that I’d never make a better match. But things change, people change, and on Thursday this dream came finally to an abrupt end.

So here I am, feeling lost, disappointed, disorientated and empty, trying to make sense of the memories, the reasons and why it didn’t work, thinking of the good times and the bad, and about the many things that will be different from now on; I’m finding that the realization of small details can throw me off balance just as much as the obvious big issues.

What next? Well, there’s a lot of grieving still to be done, but one thing I have learned over these last few years is that I do have much more control over my happiness than I’d previously thought, and merely sitting around feeling miserable all the time is tantamount to surrendering this control. I want to use this blog to document progress, to celebrate the positive changes I make in my life over the next few months. I imagine there’ll be some “woe is me” moments as well, but I want them to be as cathartic as possible.

Sifting through the “debris” left after the breakup, I find myself – surprisingly, sometimes – coming back again and again to the positive things that entered my life through the relationship and which will remain even though the relationship has ended. A rather motley collection of examples: photography and the special friendships and new interests it has brought with it, feeling as comfortable in German as in English, greater awareness of the possibilities offered by the technical world, and ending up a much more self-confident and sociable person after battling depression and willing myself to change for the better. No one else can take these things away from me; it’s my responsibility to nurture them further.

I still need a new start, as there are obviously things which have been lost and which can’t simply be left as a gaping abyss, but I think I have good foundations on which to build, AND a wonderful network of friends and family to help me when the going isn’t so easy…

Rose in the mire


Filed under Up close and personal